Saturday, June 6, 2015

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

JS & MR tags: fairies, fantastical, historical fiction, magicians

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from Goodreads
At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.
Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear. 
I first read this novel in 2004. I loved it and became my favorite book of the fantastical. I love it more than any fantasy novels I have read including The Lord Of The Rings and all of Neil Gaiman's books. I read it a second time about 5 years ago. My first edition hardcover [illustrations by Portia Rosenberg] has 782 pages of tiny tiny print with even tinier footnotes which I also read and enjoyed as much as the novel itself. I'm re-reading it for the third time after watching the first 3 episodes of the BBC 7-episode adaptation.

The prose is beautiful and appropriate for the period (Regency). Although the characters, specially Mr Norrell, are not the "lovable" types, they are definitely likable and very well defined. The story is dark, compelling, well-researched, and historically accurate. Regardless of the length, I was mesmerized and couldn't put it down.

Highly recommended for lovers of the fantastical; not recommended for Harry Potter readers though.


The BBC TV adaptation is premiering on BBC America on June 13, 2015.

first 3 Episodes
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Wow! I love the adaptation. Casting, costumes, and sets are simply superb. Eddie Marsan as Mr  Norrell is spot on with his short-ish stature, blue beady eyes, and excellent portrayal. Eddie Marsan is Mr Norrell. 

illustration of Mr Norrell by Portia Rosenberg


Bertie Carvel as Jonathan Strange who is supposed to be dashing and handsome is not what I imagined him but the actor grows on me. All other actors/characters specially the Gentleman With Thistle-down Hair and Lord Wellington are exceptional too. The adaptation is very true to the book with very few alterations which aren't noticeable nor important. The rich visuals, acting, and script make the 3 episodes spell-binding [so far]. I can't wait to see the rest of the series.

Highly recommended for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell fans.

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